Insomnia is a sleep disorder that hampers your ability to fall and stay asleep. Living with insomnia can be a waking nightmare for some people, and it significantly affects overall mental health and well-being.
Sleep deprivation can lead to issues with work and relationships. It also massively disrupts your ability to function well. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), 30% of adults suffer from insomnia, and 10% of adults report suffering from chronic insomnia.
Luckily, many wonderful treatment options are available to help people suffering from this harrowing disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i or CBTi) has been shown to be an effective treatment.
Results suggest it helps sufferers improve their sleep quality, increase sleep time, and reduce depressive symptoms. It’s also a safer, more holistic approach than simply taking sleep medication to make your problems go away.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
So, what is cognitive behavioral therapy anyway? And how does it work? Cognitive behavioral therapy can roughly be defined as a type of psychotherapy to identify and change dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors.
It helps people become more in tune with their thoughts, emotions, and behavioral patterns. This ultimately results in greater control over how they react to triggers and stressors.
Since its development in the 1950s, cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment for a wide range of psychological problems. Here’s a list of the disorders that can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Eating disorders – such as anorexia and bulimia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sleep problems – such as insomnia
- Problems related to alcohol misuse
- Anxiety disorders
Cognitive Behavioral Online Therapy for Insomnia: Is it Effective?
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-i, has been shown to be effective for treating the disorder in adults. It also relieves you of having to cope with the undesirable side effects of being on sleep medication. These side effects include daytime drowsiness, gastrointestinal problems, and possible allergic reactions.
Techniques of CBT for Insomnia
Cognitive behavioral therapy employs many useful techniques aimed at improving well-being and helping you function better. Cognitive behavioral techniques for insomnia include the following strategies:
Insomnia can often be a result of perpetually negative thought patterns about sleeping or during the period when sleep is supposed to happen. For example, if a person has difficulty sleeping for several nights in a row, they may begin to believe that something is intrinsically wrong with them.
They may perhaps believe that they’ve lost the ability to fall asleep. This can lead to more difficulty falling asleep and perpetuate a painful cycle of insomnia. Engaging in dysfunctional thought patterns when trying to fall asleep can also be a leading cause preventing people from sleeping.
Cognitive restructuring involves identifying, challenging, and changing the dysfunctional thought patterns causing the problem. By consciously dismantling the thoughts that usually occur unconsciously, you can control your mind and combat insomnia.
Sleep restriction and compression
People who have insomnia spend a lot of time just lying in bed awake. Sleep restriction puts a limit on this. First, individuals determine how much time they actually spend sleeping. Then, they reduce the amount of time in bed each night to that time plus 30 minutes.
So, if they usually sleep for 4 hours and 30 minutes, they will allow themselves to stay in bed for 5 hours. This technique can result in a temporary increase in daytime sleepiness and is not suitable for people with particular medical conditions.
Sleep compression, on the other hand, is a much softer approach. Instead of immediately reducing the time to match the time spent sleeping, the reduction takes place gradually. This is more suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions and the elderly.
Stimulus control helps people remove the negative association they may have developed with their bedroom and bed. Not staying in bed when having difficulty sleeping diminishes this negative association.
Relaxation is an important part of treatment for insomnia. Most people have at least some degree of stress in their lives. This mental tension can result in physical tension and discomfort and ultimately obstructs well-being.
Relaxation techniques include deep abdominal breathing, body scanning, and practicing detachment. When practiced frequently, they retrain the mind to stop reacting to stressors and contribute to mental balance and equilibrium.
When people learn about psychology, for example, the importance of sleep and the risks of stress, they become more able to help themselves. Simply knowing more about psychology gives people a useful and objective framework through which to analyze their situation.
How Does Insomnia Online Therapy Work?
Online therapy for insomnia works much the same way as a regular treatment for insomnia.
Before entering into a personalized treatment program, you’ll need to fill out a questionnaire detailing the issues you’re hoping to resolve.
You’ll then be matched with a suitable therapist with a qualification to conduct cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
Online therapy for insomnia generally consists of daily text or audio messaging with your therapist. Unlike regular onsite therapy, where you rarely have an open line of contact between sessions, online therapy allows you to communicate with a therapist almost every day.
Dr. Michelle Olaithe gave an interesting speech on TEDx about science of sleep:
The Benefits of Online Therapy for Insomnia
The beauty of online counseling is that the limitations of your location no longer bind you.
While there is certainly something to be said for traditional face-to-face counseling, online therapy has a huge number of significant benefits.
You’ll find that many doors of opportunity open when you convert to doing your therapy sessions online.
Doing therapy online means that you can choose from a range of world-class therapists rather than simply settling for one area purely for convenience. Increased choice increases your chances of finding somebody you really resonate with. This can ultimately improve your treatment results.
Modern life doesn’t always grace us with enough extra time to take care of ourselves properly. Every second of the day counts when working a full-time job and staying on top of personal matters. This is why online therapy is a great option for saving time while also getting the care you need.
You’ll no longer need to spend time getting ready and making the journey to and from the therapist’s office. Instead, all you need to do is pick up the phone or open the laptop. While this may seem like a small thing, accumulatively, you’ll save a lot of time.
Direct line to your therapist
With most traditional face-to-face therapy programs, you get your weekly sessions, but that’s it. Online counseling gives you access to therapists on a more ongoing basis. You can contact them via messages, staying connected when you need it most.
Accessible in the comfort of your own home
Self-care should take place in an environment where you feel comfortable. Opting to do therapy sessions digitally allows you to take part from wherever your heart desires. You’ll no longer need to comply with other people’s rules or needs and can personalize your therapy experience.
Whether you’d prefer to take your therapy sessions from your living room, your favorite café, or while walking in nature, online therapy lets you choose.
Insomnia is a serious disorder that causes frustration and negatively affects well-being and quality of life. Traditional medical treatment for insomnia with medication comes with many potentially harmful side effects. Luckily, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for combating sleepless nights.
In recent years, our lives have become increasingly online. This also has implications for how therapy is conducted. Online cognitive behavioral therapy is a great way to combat your insomnia without having to make the journey to a therapist’s office.
There are many advantages of doing online therapy, including increased convenience, time-saving, and choice of therapist.